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Everest daily wrap up: Russian North Face pushing above 7600
image story

May 5, 2004 11: 56 EST
Because the weather window will only last for a few days this week many teams have opted to stay in BC. The Russian North Face team plans to set camp at an unprecedented 8500m, above a technically difficult part of the route.

Everest Weather

A jet lies just north of Kazakhstan and another westerly jet is positioned over the Himalayas with the core over Pakistan and Everest, the jet will stay over this territory throughout the week. Winds on the summit are Northwest at 30-35 m/s, slowly turning west. At lower altitudes winds will be around 10-15 m/s, increasing to 20 m/s on Sunday.

A ridge over Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan means dry weather on Everest. The ridge is weakening and from Saturday a trough will move eastward over Everest with some showers.

Everest North: 8000 meters is near

Eugeny Vinogradsky called from the Russian North Face team: “The weather is better; our group's going to work at the Wall this morning, so don't wait for my calls.

Over the past few days winds destroyed three tents and the mess-tent. The team has reached 7600 m altitude (7800 in a different estimate). We need to set camp at 8500m!

From the history books: Only once before has a camp been set at this altitude (by Indonesia in 1997). Climbers usually set their highest camps at 8000-8300 m and reach the top from there, trying to spend as little time in the "Death Zone" as they can. But the North Wall has technically difficult rocks between 7900 and 8500 meters, and that's why the need for such a high camp. Only when they overcome this part can climbers try a summit bid.”

Tom and Ben; restless in BC. “Winds have decreased a little making it less tiring for us here at BC. Paul and Rick fixed our shower tent which blew away the other day. The weather was clear this morning with Everest clearly visible so we took advantage and took several photos for our various sponsors.

Climbing these 8,000+ meter peaks is a game of waiting and being patient. We have done our acclimatization work and the window will come sometime between now and the end of May. We spend a lot of time discussing what flow rate we will run our oxygen systems at, if and when we are lucky enough to climb above 7,800m. We expect to be at BC for at least 3 or 4 more days (perhaps longer) while keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast which comes in daily from America via email.”

Wilco, Rex and Ron are back on the North Col, currently digging out their tents from the snow drifts. They report that no damage has befallen their camp, though many other camps are heavily damaged. They plan to set up Camp 2 as soon as the wind dies down.

Everest South: Approaching the South Col

O2-less Mexican/Canadian team close to the South Col. The latest information is that Andrés got on top of the Geneva Spur very close to the South Col at 7900 meters. Alejandro and Luis went as far as the Yellow Band at 7600 meters. It seems that the other climbers who started from Camp 2, have turned back before reaching Camp 3 and returned to Camp 2. They have probably decided to postpone their ascent to 8000 meters.

Ed Viesturs calling from Camp 2. “Today our plan was to climb directly from BC to Camp 2, passing Camp 1 on the way. It took our group about five to six hours to do that, and now we are here at Camp 2. It was fairly windy on the way, which we expected. You can see the clouds racing over the summit ridge, and the south summit as well. There were some big gusts that blew in through Camp 2, but the tents, despite all the wind have held up quite well.”

Everyone needs to look their best! That is why Adventure Consultants had Ang Tshering as their BC barber, with Nawang Chongba as his willing subject. “Most of us watched from afar waiting to see what the style ended up being. Other than haircuts, today was spent planning for our departure at 4:30am tomorrow morning. Bags are packed and we are ready to go! So the next dispatch will hopefully be from camp1 as we push upward trying to spend one night at camp 3 in 4 days.”

Other Mountains: Snowfall stops Ama Dablam team

Ukrainian Ama Dablam: After having stayed for 5 days in the tents we made a summit push on May 1, but after 10 hours of ascending we had to stop at the beginning of the couloir which was filled with snow and ice. Having not climbed the last 500m up to the summit we had to bail and turn back because of very bad conditions on the route and extremely high avalanche danger. At the present time the group is in base camp and is packing their things for departure home. Ironically, the weather now is magnificent.

Jannu North Face: The weather today seems better: it is overcast, but the sun periodically appears in the sky. Till the afternoon it has been snowing, but by the evening it is more pleasant. During cloud breaks Jannu sometimes appears, but not enough time to see anything in the telescope. Spring does not want to come to this place; it is more like late autumn - Yellow grass, faded plants. The two-man team Pershin - Totmyanin worked on the wall today. Tomorrow from camp at 6700 Bolotov's group will ascend up to 7000m.

We would like to wish all climbers who are making their ascents in the mountains good weather and success. And separate wishes to the Everest North Face Russian expedition and Shisha-Pangma Saint Petersburg expedition.”

Annapurna with Piotr Pustelnik: “Peter Hamor, Martin Gablik and Piotr Pustelnik were fixing rope on the ice-snow ridge when we were covered by a snowstorm. It takes your breath away and does not allow anywhere to hide. And these 9-mm ropes on which we hang on, become closer than your family. We are constantly being covered by powder avalanches, after which we have to shake out about a half backpack of snow. We are exhausted by it. Because of avalanches all of the fixed ropes become covered with snow, and we have to dig them out, wasting a lot of time.

One more misfortune: half of the team was ill. Piotr and Vlado Strba have a strange cough. Piotr tries to fight fire with fire and "strangle" tonsillitis with hard work. Aljosza Markac has an old trauma of his back and constant diarrhea.”

East Side, first ascent Makalu team: Christian reports; "It felt like paddling in sauerkraut, we had snow to the ears. It snows all the time, in two days we had 40cm of snow fall. Tuesday April 27 we went up, seeking a direct route to arrive at the foot of the Eastern Ridge at 6000m. We carried gear up in the bad weather and on the way down, good weather came around. There were seracs everywhere, we didn’t find a direct passage, therefore we came back to our first recon outing, back to the Japanese route, and we installed Camp1 around 5800m (which corresponds to Camp 3 of the Japanese).

We had good weather for the first time at base camp. This morning we set out again to go up to Camp1, it took us 12 hours, we had to break trail the entire time, in particular there was a 400m long gully in which we had snow to the hips! We plan on trying to take foot on the ridge for the next few days and to pass the main difficulties of the route between 5800 and 6600m.

The climb to Camp1 it is really a slug, 1300m elevation gain with 1000m of trail breaking. For the moment we’re sticking to this option. But if within a week if we don’t reach our objective, we will see.”

Russian Climb | Mountain.ru | Tom and Ben Clowes | Dutch paragliders | Mexican/Canadian | Ed Viesturs | Adventure Consultants

Live image of Ang Tshering with Nawang Chongba provided by Contact 2.0, courtesy of Adventure Consultants.

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